High School

Ludlow High School, 2020

Undergraduate Education

BA in Computational and Applied Mathematics from Harvard College, 2024

Graduate Education

MS in Applied Mathematics, Harvard University, 2024


“For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated with how civic society is made up…with who gets to make decisions, who has the power,” recounts Matthew Tibbits, fresh off of a whirlwind week helping lead the Harvard Model Congress annual simulation conference in Boston. As a first-generation college student at an elite Ivy League university, Matt has a unique perspective on these societal dynamics. “When I first entered Harvard, I found myself surrounded by students from powerful families with connections, money, distinguished backgrounds. The first year or two was a transition in learning to hold my own.” (There were, to be fair, a few occasions when those power dynamics were reversed. “The number of people in my freshman dorm that I had to teach to do laundry was pretty crazy!” he recalls.)

Notwithstanding his professed lack of pedigree, Matt’s smarts and motivation were evident early on. As Matt describes it, “There weren’t a lot of Ivy League admissions from my high school in Ludlow. I definitely ended up on the nerdier side, focused on math and student government.” When he realized that certain higher-level courses weren’t offered at his high school, Matt enrolled in college-level courses locally. At the same time, he became the student member of the Board of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, representing over 950,000 K-12 students in Massachusetts Public Schools. This only fueled his interest in government systems and their decision making processes.

When the COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench in the freshman year of so many college students, including Matt, he decided to complete his remote coursework from home in Ludlow, while volunteering as a field organizer for the freshman campaign of Massachusetts legislator Jake Oliviera. Oliviera’s narrow, 134-vote margin of victory reinforced the truth that even in deep blue Massachusetts, every vote matters. Matt traded in his volunteer position for a full-time job as Oliviera’s legislative director, a position he held for two years while an undergrad at Harvard. As the sole paid staff member in Oliviera’s office, Matt’s responsibilities were far-ranging. “People don’t call their legislators when they’re happy, they call when they’re at the end of their rope. The amount of trust people put in you in those moments is surreal…trusting you with their personal information, their vulnerabilities. Many times, bureaucracy had failed them, but I’d sometimes be able to get it working right again.” 

Recognizing that most of his paid and volunteer experience had been in government, and that as an applied mathematics major there were as-yet unexplored opportunities in business, Matt attended an LGBTQ+ business conference in 2022 where he was recruited for a summer 2023 internship at Wells Fargo. While rotating through the exotic derivatives desk, he pitched a green energy product. “I saw that although green energy is still on the back burner, it is on people’s radars. There’s money to be made in it.” Matt’s experience in government and now in the private sector led him to the conclusion that “neither government nor the free market will solve everything. The solution is a mix of both.”

Having successfully navigated the transition through a series of new environments, Matt seems to have hit his stride as he closes out his time at Harvard. “I’ve found a group of friends I’m comfortable with,” he says. “People who come from unique backgrounds. Some of my current roommates were born in Ukraine. Another is from a rural town in California where his family runs a dairy farm. I like to surround myself with people who are down to earth and can stay in conversations and who are supportive of what’s important to me.”

And even as he prepares to move to New York next year to try his hand at finance, having accepted a full-time position at Wells Fargo, Matt hasn’t forgotten the issues that first propelled his mind as a young person in Ludlow. “If I could solve one problem it would still be the thing I cared about in high school: getting more young people involved in politics and policy. When you consider the people who care the most about environmental issues, it’s those who have 80 or 90 years left to live in this environment.” And so the question of who gets to make decisions, who has the power, remains as live for Matt as ever.